Bigger, bolder library to open doors

By David Schout

A transformed State Library Victoria will open to the public on December 5 after years of redevelopments.

The $88.1 million project has drastically expanded the overall floor of Australia’s oldest public library, giving visitors 40 per cent more space and 70 per cent more seating.

While the library’s notable Swanston St facade will remain largely unchanged, a new, “more welcoming” foyer will allow people to find out what’s on and navigate to other rooms with ease.

Perhaps the most notable part of the redevelopments is the reopening of the 1850s-built Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, the library’s original reading room.

Closed to the public since 2003, the hall’s careful restoration has included the uncovering of original skylights and scraping back of paint to reveal original decorative work.

By day, the hall will continue as a reading space while at night it will transform into an event space.

Aside from this restoration, the library will feature a range of new rooms that cater to the needs of the modern user.

Adjacent to the Swanston St foyer, the new Hansen Hall will be a collaborative working space encouraging people to meet and connect.

The new SLV will also feature four new “quarters” on the ground floor. These are:

Conversation Quarter: a public forum for lectures, conferences and workshops;

Ideas Quarter: co-working space for early stage startups and small businesses;

Create Quarter: spaces for group work and school programs; and

Children’s Quarter: for children and families to read, learn and play.

SLV director of experience Sarah Slade told CBD News the new quarters acknowledged the changing landscape of the modern work environment. 

“In order to meet the changing needs of our visitors, the Ideas Quarter (StartSpace) will offer a dedicated co-working space for early startups and small businesses,” she said.

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